San Jose Bishop Counters Paprocki’s Decree Against Married Lesbian/Gay Couples

A California bishop has written a letter instructing clergy and religious in the diocese to be compassionate and inclusive when it comes to pastoral care. a direct repudiation of last month’s alienating directives from an Illinois bishop.


Bishop Patrick McGrath

Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose sent the letter on June 29, 2017. While it doesn’t specifically mention Springfield, Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s decree that bars people in same-gender marriages from participation in certain forms of pastoral care, sacramental life, and leadership, from the language of the text, it seems this recent development was on McGrath’s mind . According to the blog Proper Nomenclature, McGrath wrote:

“Recent news reports of policies and practices related to members of the LGBT community in other dioceses can be confusing.

“I take this opportunity to assure you that the pastoral response in the Diocese of San Jose remains just that: compassionate and pastoral. We will not refuse sacraments or Christian Burial to anyone who requests them in good faith.

“Finally, let us remember and be guided by the words of Pope Francis: ‘The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.'”

Paprocki’s decree drew strong reactions from Catholics, especially his instruction that pastoral ministers deny funerals to Catholics in same-gender marriages. You can read a report on his decree here, along with reactions here and here.   While other bishops (notably Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput and Newark’s former Archbishop John Myers) barred married gay and lesbian people from communion and liturgical roles, only Paprocki went so far as to forbid funerals for them.

This letter is not Bishop McGrath’s first step to be more welcoming of LGBT people. Last year, after the massacre at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, he was among the handful of bishops who explicitly mentioned the victims’ sexual and/or gender identities in a statement.

The Diocese of San Jose also hosts the Catholic LGBT Ministry Council, which sponsors monthly “All Are Welcome” Masses at parishes and provides pastoral ministers with welcoming resources.

Criticism of Paprocki has continued from other quarters. A petition asking Paprocki to reconsider his decree is gaining signatures, and Jim Ketchum wrote in The Times Herald of Michigan:

“Does this mean the church now can bury only saints? Should there be any doubt, it sounds as if you should get your requests for forgiveness in well before your last breath. . .Nobody dies sinless.”

Thankfully, Bishop McGrath has recognized that every person is welcome to pastoral care. His instruction to welcome everyone to the sacraments who “requests them in good faith” echoes Jesus’ invitation in the Gospel, and it mirrors a more merciful tone in the church sought by Pope Francis.

But beyond that, his letter is significant because, even if indirectly, he is publicly challenging a fellow bishop. This development is a sign of health in a church where there is too often silence from bishops when their peers act inappropriately. More U.S. bishops should follow McGrath’s example by issuing guidelines of welcome and inclusion.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, July 2, 2017


14 replies
  1. Edward Poliandro
    Edward Poliandro says:

    Dear Bob, So very encouraging. Suggestion: tomorrow can you give us Mc Grath’s contact info like you gave Paprocki’s? Two of us wrote to Paprocki thanks to your blog.Ss a matter of fact, I would recommend a blog entry on expressing our gratitude for courageous miracle workers In-N-Out leadership Pastors included. Fir example you could have the “thank you list” include Tobin, Cruz and McElroy and their contact info. We don’t spend enough time on reaching out to say “thanks”, especially after what most go through for being Prophetic Witnesses. Thanks for all you do for us and for the Church! Ed

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Don Siegal
    Don Siegal says:

    San Jose Bishop [McGrath] Counters Paprocki’s Decree Against Married Lesbian/Gay Couples

    Bishop McGrath’s letter is particularly heartening to me because I live in the diocese of Fresno, a diocese that borders San Jose.

    To borrow the phrase, “Isn’t he a breath of fresh air?”

  3. Jeanne Kenny
    Jeanne Kenny says:

    Thank you Patrick McGrath–that’s smelling like the sheep you serve.
    Perhaps Tom Paprocki needs to focus/practice more on being compassionate to all people instead of playing hockey and receiving too many pucks hit to his head.

  4. Loretta
    Loretta says:

    So many of us wrote to Bishop Paprocki. I feel and think I need to write a letter of appreciation to Bishop McGrath. Thanks for reporting good news!

  5. Jim Ditton
    Jim Ditton says:

    Totally agree there was nothing ever said about what Jesus’s position on homosexuality is the Bible may say it’s wrong if it is then why didn’t Jesus ever preach against it and condemn the lesbians and gays in his time if it’s so horrible there is a reason he loves everyone he may not like the way we live our lives he has the right to pass judgement on us no one else has that right I don’t care about what others think of my life I do care though about what Jesus thinks no human being should ever act like their way of living is better than someone else’s because it’s not do not judge others or you will be judged

  6. JED
    JED says:

    This. Bishop truly follows WWJD and is on the same page as our beloved Pope Francis, “who am I to judge?” How I admire him and appreciate him.

  7. freecatholic808
    freecatholic808 says:

    Reblogged this on Dawn Morais and commented:
    Thank you, Bishop McGrath for invoking Pope Francis’ words: “Finally, let us remember and be guided by the words of Pope Francis: ‘The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’”

  8. Steve in Phoenix
    Steve in Phoenix says:

    A priest here in Phoenix refused to give me absolution during Confession when he found out I am gay and married to a man. It’s OK, Christ gave me absolution, I made my confession in good faith and he was there listening.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] y explícitamente  a Paprocki .  En San Diego, el obispo Patrick McGrath publicó un memorando a los ministros pastorales de la diócesis diciendo que su respuesta a los fieles debe ser […]

  2. […] continued to implicitly and explicitly criticize Paprocki.  In San Diego, Bishop Patrick McGrath released a memo to pastoral ministers in the diocese saying their response to the faithful should be […]

  3. […] Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego did support San Jose’s Bishop Patrick McGrath who released a communique to pastoral ministers in his diocese that said all Catholics would be welcome to the sacraments. […]

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